Review: Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger

I am pleased to say that I have finished my first book for one of my reading challenges and the first day of 2011 is barely over!

The 2011 Steampunk Reading Challenge hosted by Bookish Ardour kicked off 1/1/11 and I started reading Soulless by Gail Carriger in the wee hours of 2011 simply because I was not tired and thought there is no time like the present when it comes to New Years resolutions!

The 2011 Steampunk Challenge intrigued me because of course I am a huge fan of all things Victorian and Gothic but had never really gotten into the other sub-genres such as Steampunk. For those of you who don’t know what Steampunk is check out The Steampunk Age website, they have lots of useful info about the genre. I like that the genre has many of the same elements that Gothic Literature does so when I saw one of my fav blogs, Bookish Ardour, was hosting this challenge I could’t resist!

The first thing that drew my to Soulless was the cover, I’m not gonna lie I think a well designed cover makes books more eye catching and this cover style is right up my alley. I wasn’t sure what to expect as this book is generally considered pararomance not just steampunk, but I was so caught up in the book I could hardly put it down! In short, it was AMAZING!

The story is set in early 19th century London and the protagonist is a 26 year old spinster named Alexia Tarabotti. Here is a description from Shelfari:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

Alexia, like many other female protagonists in pararomance, vamp-lit, or other supernatural/fantasy books is more masculine and independant and possess some unique power which will likely save her love interest (vamp, werewolf, etc) from his personal hell. Alexia is no different, she is the antidote of shorts and can change Lord Maccon from werewolf to human at the touch of a hand. So in that sense and the romance that follows is a little predictable but it was still fun to read.

It is a story more geared toward female audiences and possess some Steampunk devices and characteristics which made it fun, whimsical, and a steam-powered eccentric novel! Many of the characters wear ‘glassicles‘, futuristic inventions, and all kinds of blimps and various flying contraptions roam about London’s friendly skies landing in Hyde Park. However the one element that ruled the novel was the mad scientists and automatons. Victorian society was obcessed with technology and science and as a result various ‘monsters’ became iconic figures.

One of which was the idea which we see in this book is automatron–in essence, a mechanical steam-powered Frankenstein of sorts. In the novel there are other supernatural figures such as the moody/gay vampires (representing Victorian sexuality/gender fears), hot tempered/territorial werewolves (representing Victorian sexual enlightenment), and ghosts (representing the Victorian fear of the unknown). However the automatron represents a larger cultural fear–fear that somehow technology and science somehow will overtake the masses leading to widespread corruption and social evil–I’ll leave each of you to form your own opinions about that statement.

As I noted earlier, the Steampunk sub-genre does include many of the same themes as the wider Gothic genre does; such as ghosts, vampires, and werewolves. Other elements include dark crumbling castles (though not crumbling, Lord Maccon lives in a castle and is an Earl), scientific influence, and ‘damsels in distress’ (like it or not Alexia is more or less in distress throughout the later half of the book). So essentially it’s a Gothic novel with a sprinkling of blimps, glassicles, and steam-power!

At any rate the story has some interesting themes and read very quickly. It was suspenseful–though predictable at times, but Alexia is so funny that the novel was far from boring. In a time when vampires are wildly popular in literature and movies these days it’s nice to have a break and see a real romance develop between protagonist and werewolf. Though personally I would go with vampire romance (I do love a dark, brooding, mysterious vampire!) rather than werewolves only because they are typically too moody for my supernatural taste! But in this book, Lord Maccon (werewolf) was sure hard NOT to love!

Now on to the next book in the series, Changeless. I can hardly wait! I will hopefully finish it tomorrow if it is half as good as the first novel!

Parasol at the ready!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger

  • Kindle Edition, Original edition, 388 pages
  • Published October 1st 2009 by Orbit
  • ASIN B002NPCJ3G

This book counts toward: 2011 Steampunk Challenge

Recommendation: 5 out of 5 (EXCELLENT, read it!)

Genre: Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural Fiction, Para-Romance.

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

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20 Comments

  1. mom

     /  January 2, 2011

    ok, now you have me convinced that I should read this…..I will try to download it on my AMAZING NEW KINDLE!!!!!!!!!!!! as soon as the adapter arrives 🙂

    Reply
    • Yes it’s amazing!! The author re-tweeter me so i’v gotten a lot of traffic on this post today…..it’s so good I’m almost done w/ book 2—-this series is sooooo fun you can’t NOT read it 🙂

      Email me your amazon account and I’ll forward my copy k?

      Reply
  2. mom

     /  January 2, 2011

    wait….your reading partner is a dog????????????????

    Reply
    • Of course! I say the words “let’s go read Sugar” and she busts down the bedroom door with her bobo and jumps on the bed eagerly waiting my affections and what we are reading next. Then once I starts reading she falls asleep on my lap :). Sugar loves to read!!!

      Reply
  3. mom

     /  January 2, 2011

    ok, it is $7.99 in Kindle, can I borrow the book?

    Reply
  4. Yes! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. The more good reviews I come across the more I can’t wait to read it. I’m most excited about the mad scientists. And I’m with you on the covers. Great covers make a difference to me too, even though we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but who can knock back a lovely one?

    Reply
  5. I’m thinking about reading this. Not my usual sort of thing, but I’m thinking about joining the Steampunk challenge. Your review has probably swayed me to give it a go! 🙂

    Reply
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